In the study I discover on EBSCO, it examined notions of “censorship, self-censorship, and conformism on Russia’s federal television networks.” By looking at famous Russian media personalities, Dr. Elisabeth Schimpfossl attempted to explain the interactions of the Russian government and its media networks. In the beginning of the article, the author acknowledges how in Russia, “often without being told what to do, journalists, reporters and television hosts are usually keen to get it right and do what they think that the authorities want them to do.” This is where the idea of self-censorship is first introduced. Self-censorship is a somewhat vague notion that “implies a self-inflicted restriction of free expression, also arising from subordination to the political interests as well as fear of superiors.” In other words, self-censorship occurs when a person knowingly refrains from some sort of expression.
By conducting a historical analysis of coercion in Russia, Schimpfossl explains how the Soviet Union utilized coercion to force “reporters and public activists to suppress their thoughts, which, later, became the silently accepted norm of behavior to get by without trouble.” Therefore, the study also sought to explain “whether Russian media governance is based on coercion or whether media personalities and reporters primarily conform to the ideas and values promoted by the current regime.”
Through interviews with Russian media personalities, Schimpfossl was able to gain a broader view of how the Russian media supports the current political regime, often times using very subtle tactics. One news presenter, Kiselev, explain how he maintained a decent level of political tolerance. However, his “tolerance of political diversity has clear limits. It ends where political views are not in accordance with the current regime.” Another presenter, Mamontov, described how “the lack of freedom of speech as one of the most pressing issues in Russia today” As Schimpfossl points out, “this cannot be interpreted as an expression of criticism of the current media governance.” As long as a person chooses not to say anything negative towards Vladimir Putin’s administration, they may freely discuss their opinions.
While censorship may be expected from Russian media, a reason that it might be looser than orgainally projected, is that television networks must keep viewers watching. The authors explain that “censorship and self-censorship tend to risk making reports dull and boring, whereas a reporter’s creativity usually does the opposite. The opinions and interests of many reporters often overlap with those of their viewers.” She also discovered that many media influencers hold the view that, if [a person] does not agree with the editorial policy of one media organization, he or she is free to change to another organization.”
In the end, Schimpfossl deducted that “ coercion is not an aspect which concerns journalism on federal television channels.” She found that self-censorship is seen as a way of being, or an awareness and instinct to know what is appropriate in a given situation, and not something forced upon the media.
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SCHIMPFOSSL, ELISABETH, and ILYA YABLOKOV. “Coercion or Conformism? Censorship and Self- Censorship among Russian Media Personalities and Reporters in the 2010S.” Demokratizatsiya, vol. 22, no. 2, Spring 2014, pp. 295–311. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=100826496&site=ehost-live.